Post updated on 19st April 2021
Last year was a year in which our lives changed a lot and staying safe and healthy should be a priority.
But as this is a travel blog, I think I have an obligation to update you about the situation in Greece regarding coronavirus and what measures Greece has taken regarding tourism even if travelling might not be a priority for now.
I am going to update this post as often as possible and I am also going to answer to your questions, so feel free to ask me on the comments and I will add the information on the post.
I will try to use official information and I will put sources as this is a very important subject.
On this post, you will find
- What is the situation right now with the coronavirus cases
- What are the local restrictions now
- What do you need to know before travelling to Greece
- When Greece will open its borders for tourism in 2021
- Are going to be covid free islands and if yes, which ones will be?
What happened till today in Greece because of the coronavirus pandemic?
Greece got in its first total lockdown on 13th March 2020 and they started lifting the restrictions on 5th of May 2020.
This happened in spite that on that point the coronavirus cases were quite low, around 190 and 1 death was reported at that date (data by Worldometer). Getting the tough measures so early, I think it was quite critical and helped to flatten the curve at that point and kept the cases and most importantly the deaths quite low on the 1st wave.
This gave time to the government to prepare the health system and increase the health personnel and get more ICU beds, monitors, respirators etc. (Data by Health System Response Monitor (HSRM))
During the summer of 2020, the borders were opened with caution and some extra testing on flights and the incoming tourists.
As of 19st April 2021, Greece reports 316.879 cases and 9.540 deaths. More information about the daily statistic you can find on the Worldometer website here.
On 19/04/2021, 1.607 new coronavirus cases were announced and 78 new deaths.
What are the restrictions inside Greece because of Coronavirus?
The Greek authorities have implemented tough measures to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
At present, it is mandatory to wear a mask in all public places (both indoors and outdoors), in all areas of Greece.
All restrictions remain under regular review. In Regional Units (περιφερειακές ενότητες) where the spread of Covid-19 is particularly high and hospital capacity is limited, restrictions may be tighter or re-imposed with limited notice.
Only the most relevant measures to travellers are included below. You should keep up-to-date by checking this page regularly, and following local announcements.
As restrictions may vary, you should check the latest local guidance (in Greek).
- you must use a facemask in all indoor and outdoor public and communal spaces, including work-places and on public transport;
- a curfew is in place from 9pm to 5am;
- you must have certification of any essential movements (essential movements are defined according to the list below, or for work-related reasons – in which case your employer must provide you with certification of your requirement to travel). For more detail see below;
- retail stores (except for shopping malls) are open for ‘click-away’ and ‘click-in-shop’ by appointment. Individuals are only allowed to shop for 3 hours a day, and must book an appointment for ‘click-in-shop’ purchases by sending an SMS message with their name and address to 13032;
- restricted numbers are in place for churches and religious services;
- a ban on travel between regional units of Greece, except for essential reasons (ie. returning to your residence or accommodation address; for family reunification reasons; for health emergencies; for essential business reasons- in which case your employer must provide you with certification that your travel is essential);
- Maximum 3 persons permitted to travel in taxi or a private vehicle (unless all members of the same family).
Certification of Movement
You must certify all movements outside your accommodation, either by completion of a self-written note, by using the online form provided by the Greek authorities, or by use of the Greek authorities’ free SMS service (only available from Greek mobile numbers). You must be able to show certification to the authorities when requested.
To certify an essential movement, via 1 of 3 alternative means:
(A) Send a free SMS to 13033. The SMS should be in the form:
X [blank] Name [blank] Surname [blank] Residential address
(Replace X with the number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6, corresponding to the following reasons):
- Going to a pharmacy or visiting a doctor, if this is recommended after contact with them.
- Going to an essentials supply store (supermarket, grocery shop), or another retail outlet (permitted for a maximum of 3 hours per day). (For ‘click-in-shop’ retail, individuals must book an appointment for purchases by sending an SMS message with their name and address to 13032);
- Going to the bank or other essential public services, only if the transaction is not possible online.
- Going to help people in need (including e.g. driving a family member to work, driving or accompanying a child on their way to or from nursery or school).
- Going to a ceremony (e.g. funeral, marriage, baptism) under the conditions provided by law; or moving to a divorced parent or parent who is necessary to ensure the communication of parents and children, in accordance with the regulations.
- Physical exercise outdoors or moving with a pet, visiting archaeological sites, public parks, and amateur fishing spots. All open for visits of up to 3-member groups or more for family members.
(B) Complete the online form provided by the Greek authorities (available only in English).
(C) Write a handwritten note providing the information below. You should be ready to show this to local authorities who ask for it:
- Name and Surname
- Home Address
- The reason you are going out, according to the list above, and the address of your destination
- Date, Time and Signature
Local restrictions are reviewed regularly, and you should keep up to date with announcements from the local and national authorities.
Source: UK Government
What should I know before travelling to Greece?
Travel in Greece
Travel within Greece is currently restricted, in line with measures outlined above. You should comply with all measures announced by the Greek authorities. The below advice applies to any travel which is permitted within the restrictions currently in place.
You should also note that, as a result of current restrictions on movements, transport services (including flights, intercity buses, trains and ferries) are liable to disruption at the present time.
It is mandatory to wear face masks on public transport (including flights and ferries), at airports and in taxis. Travel in a private car or a taxi is subject to certain restrictions (eg limited to a maximum number of adult passengers per vehicle) according to local measures outlined above.
If you are travelling via ferry, you will need to complete a health questionnaire and hand it to the ferry operator before boarding. The necessary forms will be provided by the operator: you should contact them directly if you need further information. Temperature checks may also be carried out before boarding; and it is obligatory to wear masks on all ferries, including on open air decks, where capacity is limited to allow for social distancing. No celebrations are allowed on board ferries.
If you are travelling by internal (domestic) flights, you are also required to wear masks throughout the journey. Specific measures relating to check-in, baggage allowances and other details are in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus. You should check with your operator directly for further detail.
Changes to what is open or permitted, including international travel options, are subject to change and may occur at short notice. Keep up to date with the latest information and advice from your travel contact or business partners, as well as the sources in this travel advice.
All hotels are permitted to open, and other types of accommodation, including e.g. Airbnb, private rentals and hostels, are also available. However, you should note that many operators are likely to reduce their offer and close some accommodation during the winter months, particularly in light of measures put in place by the Greek authorities to fight the spread of COVID-19. You should check directly with your accommodation provider in case of related concerns.
Healthcare in Greece
If you think you have symptoms, including a fever or respiratory difficulties such as shortness of breath or a cough, you should avoid visiting local health facilities, but contact a doctor remotely to see whether a test is recommended. There is likely to be a cost associated with this, for call out, examination and testing, which you will have to pay.
If you are staying in a hotel or resort, your accommodation provider will have a list of private doctors that they will call to assess your symptoms and conduct a COVID-19 test.
If you have arranged your own accommodation you can find details of English speaking, private doctors on our list of healthcare providers.
If you are tested and the result is positive, the Greek authorities will ask you to quarantine until advised otherwise. You may be able to remain in your existing accommodation, or be required to transfer into a state hospital or other government-provided accommodation. Costs related to transfer to alternative accommodation and treatment at state healthcare facilities will be covered by the Greek Government. The nature of your accommodation may differ from the specifications of your pre-booked hotel, villa or other place of stay. Depending on local arrangements, travellers in groups may be required to stay in separate accommodation (e.g. if a sufficient number of rooms is not available in one venue, your group may be spread across different accommodation locations).
For more information, consult the Greek National Public Health Organisation (NPHO) online or via telephone (dial 1135, or 210 521 2054, from within Greece).
The PLF can also be found on the Visit Greece app and at travel.gov.gr/#/
It is strongly recommended that all visitors download the Visit Greece app (GDPR compliant) for free, prior their arrival in Greece.
What are the plans for the summer?
Greek tourism on course to open on May 14, Minister Theoharis saysMinister of tourism, MRTheoharis 09/03/2021
Greek Minister for Tourism Haris Theoharis said that tourists would be welcome if they have been vaccinated, have antibodies, or a negative Covid-19 test, during a conference from the Acropolis Museum.
“We aim to open tourism by May 14, with specific rules and updated protocols. Until then, we will gradually lift the restrictions if conditions allow.”
Are going to be covid free islands and if yes, which ones will be?
The government plans to turn many islands into covid-free destinations and will therefore proceed with horizontal vaccinations of the islands with up to 10,000 inhabitants.
The initial commitment was that at least 69 islands would be fully vaccinated by the end of April. The Secretary General of Primary Health Care, Marios Themistokleous, had stated that “we have so many small islands and because it is so difficult to get vaccines, we decided to vaccinate entire populations at once, aiming to be able to receive tourists residents have been vaccinated and are fully protected. “
The islands that are already from March covid free destinations:
18 small islands have become Covid-free destinations since March, as their inhabitants are fully vaccinated or have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
The islands where the 1st installment had taken place until March 6 are:
Halki, Lipsi, Othonoi, Tilos, Arkoi, Mathraki, Gavdos, Nisyros, Agathonisi, Ereikoussa.
The islands that had taken place and the 2nd installment until March 6 are:
Kastellorizo, Meganisi, Oinousses, Fourni, Kalamos, Psara, Thymaina, Kastos.
List of islands with up to 10,000 inhabitants
The Greek islands with up to 10,000 inhabitants according to the population census in 2011 which will be vaccinated very soon are:
Kastellorizo (or Megisti)
If you have any specific question, please leave me a comment and I will reply as soon as possible.